Swing-era inspired show comes to jazz center

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BRATTLEBORO — Pianist and vocalist Champian Fulton will perform with her quartet at the Vermont Jazz Center at 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 18.

Fulton, 34, a DownBeat Magazine Rising Star, was recently lauded as 2019 Female Vocalist of the Year and 2019 Pianist of the Year by Hot House Magazine/Jazzmobile. She will be performing with her quartet of over a decade, which includes her father, Stephen Fulton, on flugelhorn, Hide Tanaka on bass and Fuku Tainaka on drums.

Fulton's repertoire includes many selections from the swing era. She has performed compositions written by bebop piano legends Oscar Peterson, Bud Powell and Cedar Walton. But she keeps coming back to the tuneful songs of the swing era.

"I love the standards the harmonic structure of tin pan alley [compositions] and the later songs by Cole Porter," she said in a news release about the performance.

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She noted, "There's room for infinite growth and creativity within the framework of the standards." She said she sang the Jimmy van Heusen composition "Darn that Dream" on her first gig ever and since "has probably played it tens of thousands of times."

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When asked about the creative process and why she so often features standards rather than original music, Fulton responds that she feels that "real creative growth comes from playing with my band and paying attention to their ideas."

She sees music as a collaborative project, something that is created on the spot through the synchronistic input of everyone in the band as well as the audience. "I think it's important that the music is really organic," she said, and she also thrives on "the audience, their energy and what they respond to."

An only child, Fulton was a born in Norman, Oklahoma. Her musician father, Stephen Fulton, intentionally influenced her by first exposing her only to the classic recording Charlie Parker with Strings. To this day, she feels "at home with that music, because that was literally all I listened to."

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In the podcast The Jazz Session, Fulton said when she was just-born, her father brought a cassette player to the hospital and instructed the nurses to play the recording of Charlie Parker with Strings. Fulton's father thought that the music would be a positive influence on his young daughter's development. The goal was to make a positive connection between Charlie Parker's brilliant improvisations and Fulton's blissful subconscious experience as a newborn bonding with her mother. She said in an interview with podcast DJ Jason Crane that her first poster was of Charlie Parker, and that she still proudly displays it in her midtown Manhattan apartment.

The Vermont Jazz Center is grateful to former board member Beth Logan Raffeld and Philip Khoury for sponsoring the concert. The center is thankful for the ongoing support of Holiday Inn Express Suites of Brattleboro. Publicity is underwritten by the Brattleboro Reformer, WVPR, WVEW, WNPR and WFCR.

Tickets for the Champian Fulton Quartet at the Vermont Jazz Center are around $20 general admission, $15 for students with ID. They are available online at vtjazz.org, by email at ginger@vtjazz.org, and at In the Moment in Brattleboro. Tickets can also be reserved by calling the Vermont Jazz Center ticket line at 802-254-9088, ext. 1. Handicapped access is also available by calling.


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